Capitals @ Penguins
PPG Paints Arena – Pittsburgh, PA
7:00PM Eastern – AT&T Sports Network | NBC Sports Washington
Seriously, would you have it any other way?
In each of the past 3 seasons, one of these two squads has been the last one standing on the quest for the Stanley Cup. This is a rivalry so remarkable that we’re truly uncertain how NBC Sports neglected to force it to land on a Wednesday night in prime time.
For the first time in 3 years, the Penguins will open their season at PPG Place without a banner to raise. And to make that sting even worse, it was their arch nemesis who not only prevented the ceremony from happening, but in fact were able to raise a banner of their own just last evening at Capital One Arena. They rode that high like a Florida man on bath salts and devoured Brad Marchand and the Bruins’ faces with an absolute shellacking.
Nick Backstrom led the way with 3 points while Evgeny Kuznetsov chipped in 2 of his own as the Caps took their first tilt by a touchdown with an extra point and a clean sheet for Holtby.
Finally, the Capitals will get a taste of what the Penguins have learned over the past few years. Having a target on your back every single night is a feeling that perhaps only Tom Wilson can understand since he ostensibly sees targets on the backs of all of his opponents’ heads.
He won’t be a factor tonight, nor will he be a factor for the first quarter of the season. We honestly feel bad for anyone sitting in front of the Caps’ box where Wilson will be sitting, since they’ll have to keep their heads up all game and it’ll be hard to track the action on the ice.
All of that notwithstanding, the Penguins’ longest offseason in a hell of a long time is finally over with the puck drop tonight. And the Penguins will look to end their longest drought without a Stanley Cup since 2015 by starting with a win over the Caps.
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Connolly
Vrana – Backstrom – Oshie
Burakovsky – Eller – Stephenson
Walker – Dowd – Smith-Pelley
Orlov – Niskanen
Djoos – Carlson
Orpik – Bowey
Guentzel – Crosby – Hornqvist
Hagelin – Malkin – Kessel
Simon – Brassard – Rust
Cullen – Sheahan – Sprong
Dumoulin – Letang
Oleksiak – Schultz
Note: Morning Skate was optional, so this is a best-guess scenario, under the assumption that Brian Dumoulin is good to go.
If he can’t go, it’ll be Riikola or Ruhwedel drawing in.